TheJournal.ie uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Click here to find out more »
Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 24 April, 2018
Advertisement

'He served the people of Northern Ireland': Tributes pour in across the political divide for Martin McGuinness

Tributes have poured in across the political divide on the death of McGuinness.

3/11/2011 McGuinness Presidential Campaigns Rallies File photo of Martin McGuinness who has passed away, aged 66. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

TRIBUTES HAVE POURED in across the political divide following the announcement of the death of former Northern Ireland deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.

The longstanding Sinn Féin member had been one of the dominant personas in Northern Ireland politics since the 1980s.

He played a vital role in the peace process, taking on the job of chief negotiator for Sinn Féin in the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement.

President Michael D Higgins released a statement this morning paying tribute to McGuinness and expressing sympathy with his family.

“The world of politics and the people across this island will miss the leadership he gave, shown most clearly during the difficult times of the peace process, and his commitment to the values of genuine democracy that he demonstrated in the development of the institutions in Northern Ireland,” President Higgins said.

As President of Ireland, I wish to pay tribute to his immense contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland – a contribution which has rightly been recognised across all shades of opinion.

Ireland Presidential Election Michael D Higgins, right, and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness during the Source: AP/Press Association Images

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said McGuinness will “always be remembered for the remarkable political journey that he undertook in his lifetime”.

“Not only did Martin come to believe that peace must prevail, he committed himself to working tirelessly to that end,” he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that she could not support what he did before turning to politics, but that he was a “vital part” of the peace process.

“While I can never condone the path he took in the earlier part of his life, Martin McGuinness ultimately played a defining role in leading the republican movement away from violence,” she said. “In doing so, he made an essential and historic contribution to the extraordinary journey of Northern Ireland from conflict to peace.”

 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TDs and politicians from the UK and Ireland both north and south of the border have paid tribute to McGuinness.

Speaking outside Leinster House, Mary Lou McDonald said:

“Martin was an inspirational Irish republican, a tireless worker for Ireland, for unity, for peace, and for reconciliation. It was my privilege to call him my friend. He will never be forgotten.
His legacy is a peaceful future, that future that he helped to secure for our island and the advancement of the movement for Irish unity which gathers pace year-on-year.

Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill described him as a “legend” and a “friend and mentor”.

“My heart is broke this morning,” she said.

We have lost a legend, a giant of a man. I’m very proud to say he was my friend and mentor.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams released a statement, saying that McGuinness had shown “great determination, dignity and humility” throughout his life and his illness.

“He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country.  But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both,” Adams said.

Martin McGuinness steps down from elected politics (From left to right) Martin McGuinness, Michelle O'Neill, Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams outside Stormont earlier this year. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Across the political divide, DUP leader Arlene Foster has also paid tribute to McGuinness, expressing her sympathies with his family.

“I want to express my sincere condolences, both personally and on behalf of our party, to the McGuinness family upon hearing the news of the passing of former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness,” Foster said.

“History will record differing views and opinions on the role Martin McGuinness played throughout the recent and not so recent past but history will also show that his contribution to the political and peace process was significant.

He served the people of Northern Ireland as deputy first minister for nearly a decade and was pivotal in bringing the republican movement towards a position of using peaceful and democratic means.

Foster said that McGuinness had worked to build “the relative peace we now enjoy” in Northern Ireland.

Brexit McGuinness and Foster pictured in October. Source: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

“While our differing backgrounds and life experiences inevitably meant there was much to separate us, we shared a deep desire to see the devolved institutions working to achieve positive results for everyone,” she said.

I know that he believed that the institutions were the basis for building stability.

90434451_90434451 McGuinness and Kenny pictured in November of last year. Source: Sam Boal

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said the island of Ireland lost an important political figure and he acknowledged his contribution to peace in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Flanagan said he had seen “first hand” the manner in which he embraced and worked within the peace process.

“I’ve seen firsthand the manner in which he… professionally engaged in ensuring that peace and stability as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement was realised,” he said.

Flanagan also said that he liked McGuinness on a personal level, and referenced the “threats he withstood on a daily basis” from dissident republicans who didn’t support the peace process.

Villiers' plea over parades body (From left to right) Former Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson, Charlie Flanagan and Martin McGuinness. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

“I liked Martin McGuinness, I liked him personally, he was personally very charming,” said Flanagan.

“He was always very courteous, but having experienced first hand his personal contribution to building peace and consolidating the peace process I feel sad.

A sad day. Martin McGuinness was a man who travelled on a long journey and he did so with great conviction.

Former UK government press secretary Alastair Campbell described him as a “great guy”.

“So sad Martin McGuinness has died,” he tweeted.

Some will never forgive his past but without him there would be no peace. The man I knew was a great guy.

As well as opposition politicians, tributes and expressions of grief have been pouring in from Sinn Féin TDs and rank and file members on the loss of one of their political giants.

McGuinness is survived by his wife Bernie, his four children Grainne, Fiachra, Fionnuala and Emmet, and his grandchildren and extended family.

Read: Martin McGuinness has died at the age of 66

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

Read next:

COMMENTS (89)

Trending Tags